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“The Scorch Trials” movie diverges from the book but entertains

"The Scorch Trials"
“Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is action-packed, but doesn’t stay close to the plot of the novel. Credit: 20th Century Fox.

If you are looking for an action-packed, on-the-edge-of-your-seat movie, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” directed by Wes Ball, may be the one for you. But if you are looking for a close adaptation of the novel, the movie disappoints.

Based off of the New York Times best-selling novel The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, the movie picks up right where the first movie, “The Maze Runner” ended, with Thomas and the rest of the Gladers being “rescued” from the maze and brought to a highly fortified building.

After they meet teenagers from other mazes similar to the one the Gladers were put in, they soon find out that they were not rescued, but taken into WCKD’s headquarters, the organization who built the maze to study them. There, doctors and the leaders of WCKD are harvesting the teenagers’ brains to retain a cure of the deadly “Flare” disease.

Thomas and the other Gladers escape into the Scorch, a barren wasteland destroyed by the sun, on the run from WCKD. There, they fight the Flare-infested “Cranks” and run into deathly obstacles while WCKD continues to search for them.

Right from the beginning, the movie strayed from the novel. In the book, Thomas and the Gladers are not brought to the WCKD Headquarters and are put in the Scorch, as their second trial created by WCKD. However, in the movie, the characters escape into the wasteland.

The first 25 minutes of the movie are more parallel to the beginning of The Death Cure, which is the last installment in the book series, rather than The Scorch Trials.  

The original purpose for WCKD putting the Gladers in the Scorch was to see if they were able to survive and adapt to the harsh conditions of the wasteland, so the could find the cure. The main plot was drastically changed from trying to survive by getting through the Scorch to running away from WCKD.

But as the movie continues, the movie diverts even more from the original plot. The characters in the movie are chased by the Cranks, people who are infested with the deadly virus known as the Flare, many more times than in the novel. The Cranks are also represented more like zombies in the movie, which contradicts the original description of Cranks in the novel, creating more of a “zombie apocalypse” feeling.

Those scenes additionally added déjà vu moments, resembling the many “running-away-from-danger” scenes in the first film.

Some book fans enjoyed the changes and thought that the installment was better than the first. “The Scorch Trials” had an opening weekend domestic gross of $30,300,000 and worldwide gross of $108,300,000. The first movie opened with a domestic gross of $32,600,000.

Besides many major plot changes, the movie keeps watchers on their edge of their seat with the countless number of chase, near-death, and jump scenes.

Actor Dylan O’Brien perfectly portrays the protagonist “Thomas” in the movie. Thomas goes through many obstacles that change the way he views his friends and freedom, though there is not a lot of character development.

Another notable performance is Rosa Salzar’s portrayal of Brenda, a survivor who helps Thomas find his way in the Scorch, who helps make the development of Thomas visible.

With the introduction of many new characters, the returning ones lack the screen time they deserve. Main characters from the first movie, such as Minho, Newt and Teresa, hardly go through character development and are not as important as in the first movie, until the ending plot twist.

In addition, the movie focuses more on the countless action sequences rather than the plot holes that were originally established in the first film, leaving movie-goers still wondering how things got to the place they are.

The action scenes do not disappoint and only benefit the movie as a whole, drawing in your attention more than it would have if the movie was closer to the book.

Though with major changes and plot holes, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” is a thrilling, must see action-packed movie that will leave the audience wanting more, anxiously waiting for the finale of the trilogy.

-Joshua Modglin

Background Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox